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Illinois Speaker, former Quincy lobbyist implicated in bribery case

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CHICAGO (WGEM) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office said electric utility ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and former Quincy attorney, lawmaker and lobbyist, Mike McClain.

Federal prosecutors announced Friday that ComEd had admitted that it arranged jobs, subcontracted work and monetary payments related to those jobs in exchange for lawmakers to pass legislation that would be favorable for ComEd's business.

Late Friday morning Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Madigan “must resign” if allegations of corruption are true against the fellow Democrat long considered the state’s most powerful lawmaker.

Madigan responds

The following statement was issued by Madigan's office Friday afternoon:

“The Speaker has never helped someone find a job with the expectation that the person would not be asked to perform work by their employer, nor did he ever expect to provide anything to a prospective employer if it should choose to hire a person he recommended. He has never made a legislative decision with improper motives and has engaged in no wrongdoing here. Any claim to the contrary is unfounded."

“This morning the Speaker accepted subpoenas related to his various offices for documents, asking for, among other things, documents related to possible job recommendations. He will cooperate and respond to those requests for documents, which he believes will clearly demonstrate that he has done nothing criminal or improper.”

Quincy connection

Court documents also implicate a person who is referred to as “Individual A” as being in the center of the actions.

The document states Individual A “served in the Illinois House of Representatives for approximately ten years beginning in 1972, then served as a lobbyist and/or consultant for ComEd until 2019.”

That defines the credentials of Mike McClain, a former Quincy attorney, lawmaker, a longtime lobbyist and confidant of Madigan.

A message left for McClain by WGEM News Friday morning was not returned.

Wire tapping and raid

Reports have long connected McClain to the ComEd investigation.

According to a November 2019 report by the Chicago Tribune, McClain was wiretapped by federal agents as part of the ComEd probe.

The Tribune had also reported in July of 2019 that the FBI had raided McClain's Quincy home in mid-May of last year.

The newspaper reported that the raid took place around the same time that the FBI executed search warrants at the homes of Chicago Alderman Michael Zalewski and political operative Kevin Quinn, both of whom were associates of Madigan.

Rape cover-up investigation

McClain is also at the center of an investigation into his involvement of an alleged rape cover-up, after an email he wrote surfaced during the ComEd investigation earlier this year.

In the email, McClain asked for leniency in regards to discipline for Quincy resident Forrest Ashby who was working at a Department of Human Services facility for inmates in Rushville, Illinois.

McClain wrote that Ashby, "...is a good compliance person, as I told you... He has kept his mouth shut on Jones' ghost workers, the rape in Champaign and other items. He is loyal to the administration."

The email was between McClain and then-Governor Quinn's former Legislative Affairs Liasion, Gary Hannig.

The Chief Legal Counsel from the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board said that Forrest Ashby's contract was suspended after reports surfaced that Ashby helped cover up a rape and kept quiet about ghost jobs in the state.

Gov. Pritzker addressed the rape cover-up allegations in January saying that a full investigation was needed.

"We need to do an investigation and find out what the real facts are and then we have to hold those accountable who are responsible for perpetrating either the crime, the cover up or the threats associated in that email."

Gov. J.B. Pritzker - (D) Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker - (D) Illinois

Ag Director resignation

Gov. Pritzker also asked for the resignation of his Agriculture Director, John Sullivan, after learning from investigators that Sullivan was copied on the McClain email and never reported the reference to the rape allegation.

Sullivan claimed he didn't fully read the email when he received it and he missed the part about the rape.

Sullivan is a Rushville, Illinois, resident and received his Bachelor of Arts in history from Quincy College, now Quincy University.

Information about the alleged rape is still unknown. Pritzker said officials in then-Governor Quinn's office should have come forward when they received the email back in 2012.

Pritzker said his office handed the investigation over to the Office of the Executive Inspector General.

McClain, a Democrat, was appointed to the Illinois House in 1972 and won re-election four times before he was defeated by Jeff Mays in 1982.

McClain then went on to become one of the most powerful lobbyists in Springfield.

He retired from lobbying in 2016, but continued to consult organizations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ComEd Deferred Prosecution Agreement and Attachments:

ComEd Criminal Information:

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Jim Roberts

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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